Breakfast Sausage Patties

Breakfast sausage served alongside runny, sunny-side up eggs. Who could ask for anything more?

My Connecticut kitchen, gut-renovated in a disruptive and harrowing 12-week marathon last year, is my true north. It’s not fitted with enormous restaurant appliances or testosterone-fueled gadgets. Rather, its gray-green walls and white cabinets are more Zen than anything else, its lightly patterned countertops a tabula rasa.

Sure, when The One and I entertain or cook for ourselves, the kitchen is strewn with platters, checkerboarded with ramekins for mise en place, and littered with wine bottles. But during the week when he’s in NYC and I’m in alone in the country, the kitchen becomes my workshop. It’s where my craft happens. Real craft. Not just the putting together of ingredients, but the making of ingredients: Homemade Maple-Espresso Bacon; kicky breakfast sausage patties, corned beef, and pastrami; duck prosciutto; intense stocks and demi-glaces; homemade ketchups, mustards, and vinegars; even links of Portuguese chouriço, which Papa Leite once declared, through tears, to be as good as the ones he grew up eating in the Azores. Even our frigging compost is artisanal.

Why bother doing all this? I hear a friend ask in my head.

I do it because I’m almost always hungry. I do it because I find no greater purpose than sitting down at the table with my beloved and our friends, knowing that I’m filling bellies and sustaining friendships. I do it because while I’m brining meat, rinsing sausage casings, and roasting bones, all the craziness in my head stops.

It’s no different than my eighth-grade shop class at Joseph Case Junior High in Swansea, MA. Except that instead of chisels lining the wall, I’ve got knives lining a drawer, and instead of a mini foundry outside, I have a smoker on the patio. When I was 13, working in shop momentarily relieved my teenage angst, my feelings of being different, my terror at the betrayal by my surging homo hormones. Today, cooking in my kitchen workshop still beats back worries, but now they’re about the mortgage, the inevitability of growing older, and my waning homo hormones.

Why do it? “I do it because I can,” I say out loud to Devil Cat, who figure-eights between my legs, hoping for some scraps. It is here, in my kitchen, that I am utterly sure of myself.

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Breakfast Sausage Patties

One of the most important things to keep in mind while making this breakfast sausage patties recipe is to keep everything cold, cold, cold. I scatter the pork butt (also known as pork shoulder) and fatback on a parchment-lined baking sheet and slip it in the freezer the moment I even begin to think about making the recipe and I leave them there until the edges of the meat are cold and crunchy. I even place the grinder’s auger, blade, and grinding plate in the freezer, too. Otherwise the fat can melt and the meat can get squishy as the grinder heats from use. If you find this happening to you, just put the rest of the meat in the freezer until chilled before proceeding.–David Leite

LC Dexter-ify Note

We know, we know. You’re glancing at the recipe below and thinking, with annoyance, that not everyone’s kitchen is equipped with a meat grinder. And you’re right. But you sorta need one for this recipe. N-E-E-D. Just wanted to clarify that lest you be tempted to try to Dexter-ify this recipe, because even though the opening credits feature that crazy captivating breakfast scene, and this is a breakfast recipe, we can’t guarantee you’ll get the same results for this sausage with anything but an actual meat grinder. Just go buy one. And watch some Dexter.

Special Equipment: Meat grinder

Breakfast Sausage Patties Recipe

  • Quick Glance
  • 45 M
  • 5 H
  • Makes 3 pounds

Ingredients

  • 2 pounds very cold pork butt, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 pound very cold fatback, skin removed, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 1 tablespoon kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground sage
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 to 3/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger

Directions

  • 1. You want to grind the meat twice for the best results. (Sweeney Todd fans will know what I’m talking about!) First, run the pork butt and fat though the 1/4-inch plate of a meat grinder. I prefer a finer grind, so for the second grind, I pass the meat through the 1/8-inch plate. If you like a coarser grind, then pass the meat through the 1/4-inch plate again instead.
  • 2. In a large bowl, mix the pork, fat, parsley, salt, sage, black pepper, coriander, red pepper flakes (if using), thyme, nutmeg, and ginger. Work the mixture very well with your hands until all the ingredients are completely blended and the mixture is smooth. Pinch off a piece of the mixture and sauté it in a hot pan until cooked through, then take a nibble to test the seasoning. Tweak the ingredients any way you see fit. (I’m a ginger and sage freak, so I sometimes add a bit more of each.) Cover the sausage mixture tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 4 hours and up to overnight, if possible, to allow the flavors to meld.
  • 3. Shape the sausage mixture into 3- to 4-inch patties, each about 1/2 inch thick. (You can toss the breakfast sausage patties in a resealable plastic bag and refrigerate them for up to 3 days or freeze them for up to 2 months.)
  • 4. Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Add a few breakfast sausage patties to the skillet at a time, being careful not to crowd them, and sear until the patties are browned and cooked through, 5 to 7 minutes per side.
Hungry for more? Chow down on these:

Testers Choice

Testers Choice
Testers Choice
Jackie G.

Jun 17, 2014

Wow, this is wonderful breakfast sausage. Actually, it also proved to be a nice nibble before dinner last night as well as a yummy breakfast this morning with some berries and melon and a wonderful lunch with sunny-side up eggs and some sourdough toast. (Hey, I was making patties to freeze, and 2 just happened to find their way into the skillet.)

I wasn't able to find fatback, but one of my local butchers offered to save me a pound of pork fat. (Every place I called for fatback didn't have it in stock but suggested another place to try. I know that eventually I would have found it, although I may have needed to special order it, but I wanted to make the recipe sooner than that.) I left the pork butt and fat in the freezer a bit longer than the recipe suggests, but that didn't prove to be a problem. The auger, blade, and grinding plates had also been in the freezer. Grinding the meat and fat was very easy to do and nothing got squishy. I used the 1/4-inch plate the first time through and the 1/8-inch plate for the second grinding. I mixed all the ingredients with my hands while wearing rubber gloves. I let the mixture sit overnight in the refrigerator to meld. I used 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, and when I tasted the small sample I cooked after I first mixed up the sausage, the heat from the pepper was very noticeable. The next day it had tempered a bit. I may just add 3/4 teaspoon the next time I make this. Then again, the flavor was so well-balanced, I might just stick with the 1/2 teaspoon. I'd suggest trying that to begin with.

I used a 1/3-cup measure to form my sausage patties. I found this to be a very nice size. My patties were about 3 inches in diameter and about 1/2 inch thick, perhaps a bit thicker. I got a well-seasoned cast-iron skillet very hot. I added a small amount of canola oil, just enough to coat the pan. I cooked the patties for 4 minutes on each side and they turned out a fabulously crisp, caramel-colored exterior and the interior also had a great texture. So, so delicious!

I try to always have packages of sausage in the freezer so that we can quickly defrost one—or more—to satisfy a craving. I now know what the sausage in our freezer will be. It will be the sausage I make using this recipe.

Breakfast Sausage Patties Recipe

Testers Choice
Larry Noak

Jun 17, 2014

This is a very good and traditional breakfast sausage recipe. I ground my spices, including the black pepper, with a mortar and pestle, creating chunky bursts of flavor. I kept my sausage coarsely ground, as I prefer that. I also microplaned fresh nutmeg and used a spice grinder for the parsley and ginger. Normally I would use dried spices in homemade sausage, but I had fresh ingredients, so I thought, why not? I was not disappointed. The only dried herb I used was sage—oddly, all that I had was rubbed—and again, perfect. Yes, I did eat eat 3 sunny side up eggs and sausage patties for a midnight snack, but my favorite way was tossing some oversized sausage patties on the grill alongside burgers. Score: PIgs 1, Cows 0!

Breakfast Sausage Patties Recipe


Comments
Comments
  1. Rick Casner says:

    yep.

  2. Lynne says:

    Yum! I don’t eat meat often but when I do I want it to be special. I now want to make my own sausage patties, they look and sound amazing. Is that antique Bakelite flatware I see? I have the same pattern, also in green.

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Hey Lynne, I didn’t take the photo so I’m not sure of the plate, but that’s an antique Bakelite knife and fork. And if you do make your own sausage, take a picture and write a comment!

  3. Dottie says:

    Looks yummy. I guess it all depends on where you scratch.

  4. Jym says:

    I sure wish you’d share that Portuguese chouriço recipe! :)

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Hey Jym, I’m working on it! The recipe is very good (see below), but I need to make it work for the public at large–meaning making it bulletproof, guaranteeing the ingredients are easily accessible (or I have a suitable substitution; right now I use ingredients my family makes), assuring it’s safe, etc. But it’s coming!

      Homemade Chouriço

  5. Jym says:

    I get decent results for fresh sausage, like breakfast and even Italian by using ground pork from my market instead of grinding my own. Just adding an option.

  6. Ling Teo says:

    “Why bother doing all this? I hear a friend ask in my head.

    I do it because I’m almost always hungry. I do it because I find no greater purpose than sitting down at the table with my beloved and our friends, knowing that I’m filling bellies and sustaining friendships. I do it because while I’m brining meat, rinsing sausage casings, and roasting bones, all the craziness in my head stops.”

    Hear, hear David!! I’m totally there with you on this!!

  7. I have to smile at the way that so many of my friends think of my kitchen projects as “quaint.” They’re mystified and confused as to why anyone would, in this day and time, want to create their own sausage. Or pickles. Or cheese. Or catsup. They have no understanding of the craft involved or of the calming sense that the process itself brings to my soul. It slows me, quiets me, and connects me to generations who came before me.

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      EXACTLY, Lana. You understand. Next time they come over, have all your handmade foods on hand, and then when guests sit down, place all the store-bought versions in front of them. Then let’s see which ones they reach for….

  8. Larry Noak says:

    I will be making these tomorrow! They will go very nicely with some of the Maple-Espresso Bacon that you have so kindly shared with me!

  9. Susan says:

    Some creative juices flow onto a canvas propped on a easel, some let emotion carry into a tune while some fashion clay to a fantasy object. Me? I go to the kitchen, like you. I can slip on an apron to take me away from the rest of the world and then return with a nurturing gift. It may be a temporary reprieve, but the process rejuvenates me and any accolades help boost my confidence to forge on…in the kitchen and out of it!
    Can’t wait to try the sausage. I love extra sage, too.

  10. Quinn says:

    David, this post reminded me of my experiments with homemade breakfast sausage many years ago, after I raised my first pig. I’ve never had so more compliments for homemade anything! Now, chouriço…that would be a whole ‘nother level of sausage-making. Parabéns!
    I really enjoyed your thoughts on your kitchen – and I remember the renovation period, and am thrilled you are happy with the results! – but especially reading about what the kitchen really means to you. I hope everyone is fortunate enough to find their own “kitchen” – a place of comfort and confidence, peace and productivity.

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      I’d love to get my own pig at some point, Quinn. And thank you for your kind words. I do so love my kitchen. After being away on jury duty for three weeks, it was wonderful to simply stand there working. Peace.

  11. Kitchenbeard says:

    My dear Mr. Leite:

    Oh my yes. I do love making this when I have time. I have house guests coming soon and may just need to make this. I also agree about keeping things as cold as possible. One trick is to pop the baking sheet in the freezer the night before giving you a couple of minutes of wiggle room in terms of prep.

    Once the sausage is browned, I also love to dice up a russet potato and some onion and fry to a deep golden brown in the same fatty pan after and then make the eggs in the same pan. On the surface this may seem like I’m trying to save on dishes but it’s more my desire to be frugal (aka deep rooted greed) with the fat.

    KB

  12. Katie says:

    Out of curiosity, why not fresh herbs?

    • David Leite David Leite says:

      Katie, the parsley is fresh. The thyme and sage are dried. I think fresh wouldn’t have the same punch to it as dried. But you can certainly use fresh, just make sure to really mince the herbs so there is no texture issue.

  13. A+ Essay in answer to exam question: Why Cook?

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